Tag: Cyril Ramaphosa

Source: News24

After seven weeks of lockdown living, South Africans expected President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide more clarity when he addressed the nation for the first time in 20 days on Wednesday.

The purpose of the lockdown was to “flatten the curve”, meaning to delay the spread of the coronavirus to allow time for the government to upgrade its health infrastructure, import and manufacture more ventilators, construct field hospitals and increase our supply of personal protective equipment.

According to Ramaphosa, we have done well on this score.

The lockdown comes at a great cost to our country. According to National Treasury, between three and seven million South Africans could lose their jobs due to business shutting down. The South African Revenue Service projects a R285bn loss in revenue.

But South Africans complied when Ramaphosa announced the lockdown in mid-March, to ensure our health capacity is in place when Covid-19 peaks here.

We cannot avoid the onslaught of the virus. We cannot lock ourselves up for 18 to 24 months until a vaccine may be available at clinics and pharmacies. Ramaphosa didn’t provide enough clarity what a further continuation of the lockdown would achieve.

All he said on Wednesday was that some areas in the country would probably be “downgraded” to Level 3 at the end of the month, and that Level 4 regulations on retail, e-commerce and exercising would be relaxed, without providing detail.

The test for moving down levels is the rate of infections in an area against the readiness and capacity of hospitals in the city or town. Our hospitals are relatively empty at this point in time; the president should have explained why the country needed to remain on Level 4 for more than two weeks before a downgrade is considered.

It is clear that Ramaphosa is still “consulting” (read: debating or arguing) with his colleagues in the Cabinet about who would move to Level 3 when, and what the relaxations will entail.

Ramaphosa apologised to the nation for the government’s inconsistent and contradictory actions during the lockdown. This should be welcomed, but Ramaphosa should have used the opportunity to be bolder in his announcements about what happens next.

Ramaphosa’s leadership during the crisis has been exemplary. He needs to step up now, not allow the weak leaders around him to undermine our approach and address the very real, fact-based criticism of a continued lockdown after we had flattened the curve.

By Marelise van der Merwe for Fin24

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an unprecedented R500-billion social and economic support package to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday evening.

The stimulus package comes to some 10% of the country’s GDP, he said.

Speaking in a televised address to provide an update on a special Cabinet meeting held last week, Ramaphosa said R130 billion of the amount will be supported by reprioritising funds from South Africa’s existing Budget, with Finance Minister Tito Mboweni set to announce the adjustment budget in due course.

The rest would need to be funded externally, the president said, with organisations such as the World Bank, the Brics Bank and the International Monetary Fund having been approached.

The support package includes the following major interventions:

R200 billion loan scheme with major banks

While existing measures have been giving relief to many companies and workers, “it is clear that there is a far greater need across the economy”, Ramaphosa said.

A further R200-billion loan guarantee scheme will be introduced in partnership with major banks, National Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank to help companies with operational costs, salaries, rent and supplier payments, among other things.

A R50-billion boost for grant recipients

A six-month coronavirus grant will be introduced for those “most desperately affected by the coronavirus”. Child support grant beneficiaries will get an extra R300 in May and from June to October, they’ll get another R500 per month. All other grant beneficiaries will get an extra R250 per month for the next six months.

An additional special Social Relief of Distress grant of R350 per month will be available for the next six months to those who are unemployed and not receiving other forms of grants or UIF payments.

R100-billion for jobs

The pandemic has led to many people losing their jobs, the president noted. To date, the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s Covid-19 Benefit has already paid out R1.6 billion, assisting over 37 000 companies and thousands of workers, Ramaphosa said.

However, an additional R100 billion will be set aside to protect and create jobs, he added.

Government will also continue to give assistance in the form of loans, grants and debt restructuring to small businesses, spaza shops and other informal businesses, which have been given R100 million so far, he said.

R70-billion in tax relief

A range of tax relief measures will be introduced to lift pressure on businesses and individuals, the president said. Mboweni is expected to provide further details at a later stage; however, for now we know that a four-month holiday will be granted for companies’skills development levy contributions; VAT refunds will be fast-tracked; and a delay will be granted for the filing and payment of carbon tax.

Businesses will also be given some relief measures, including an increase in the turnover threshold for tax deferrals to R100 million per year, while the proportion of PAYE payments that can be deferred will be increased to 35%. Moreover, no penalties will be applied for late payments if taxpayers can show they were disadvantaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lastly, taxpayers who donate to the Solidarity Fund will qualify for a tax break.

R20-billion for municipalities

Municipalities will get a boost in the form of an additional R20 billion in funding for emergency water supply to assist sanitation, as well as public transport, and providing food and shelter for the homeless.

250 000 food parcels

The president expressed concern over food security. “We have recognized that the food distribution capacity of government is not adequate to meet the huge need that has arisen since the start of the epidemic,” he said.

Within the next few days, a tech-based system will be rolled out to provide food – via vouchers and cash – to those who need it most. Furthermore, the Department of Social Development is working with NGOs, the Solidarity Fund and others to distribute 250 000 food parcels across the country in the next two weeks.

Anyone found guilty of corruption in the distribution process would face severe consequences, he warned.

Over R100-million to help protect frontline workers

In the past few weeks, R162 million in financing from the IDC has been approved to support companies for the procurement of personal protective equipment, Ramaphosa said.

Support had been extended to other industries as well, he added.

Calling the overall scale of the relief programme “historic”, Ramaphosa said the government would “spare no expense” to protect South Africa’s people. It was necessary to do “whatever it takes” to recover from the coronavirus crisis, he argued.

The president is scheduled to provide a further update later in the week, detailing government’s planned measures to reopen the economy.

By Mihlali Ntsabo for EWN

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said President Cyril Ramaphosa would make an announcement on e-tolls in due time.

Makhura was delivering his 2020 State of the Province Address at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Ga-Rankuwa.

E-tolls have been one of the widely contested issues in the country dating back to February 2013 to the Congress of South African Trade Union’s drive-slow campaign ahead of the implementation of the system in December 2013.

The tripartite alliance partner continued with its civil disobedience campaign up until e-tolls were implemented – even setting bills on fire in front of Sanral’s offices in Pretoria.

The following year, Makhura announced in his State of the Province Address that a review panel would be set up to look at the feasibility of the model.

During his address on Tuesday, Makhura said: “As the Executive Council, we made a strong and persuasive case to national government on the e-tolls. I have been assured by President Cyril Ramaphosa that a lasting solution has been found and an announcement by the President is imminent.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance’s Solly Msimanga earlier on Tuesday said e-tolls were here to stay.

“What the Premier has been doing all this time is actually just kicking the ball along and hoping that the people of Gauteng will somehow forget and begin to pay. But the people of Gauteng are very adamant; we are paying enough.”

Last year, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that the e-tolls system would remain in their current form.

When delivering his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament in October, Mboweni said the decision was taken after consultation with key players in the transport sector.

By Khulekani Magubane for Fin24

After President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address last week under the shadow of an under-performing economy, Members of Parliament jostled over whether he was confronted by near-impossible odds or complicit in South Africa’s economic quandary.

MPs held the first day of the SONA 2020 debate in the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon.

Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa failed to capitalise on the optimism at the beginning of his presidency, as economic growth slowed, and direct foreign investment dropped along with tax revenues and employment.

“I am not going to stand here and say that this happened on your watch, Mr President. That would be far too kind. It didn’t just happen on your watch, it happened by your own hand. You, sir, put us in this situation,” claimed Steenhuisen.

Ïn Steenhuisen’s view, most of the positive announcements Ramaphosa made during his SONA were merely DA policies that the president co-opted and appropriated as his own.

“Euthanasia is never easy, but sometimes it’s the most humane option. On Thursday night you should have switched off Eskom’s life support machine, and perhaps supported the DA’s electricity plan, which takes power from the state and gives it to the people,” Steenhuisen said.

Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa’s newly announced sovereign wealth fund was only a great idea for a nation that had a healthy budget, citing Norway and Saudi Arabia as examples.

“But we are running a budget deficit and spiralling deeper and deeper into debt. Where will the money for a sovereign wealth fund come from, Mr President? From your own bank account?” Steenhuisen asked.

Speaking after Steenhuisen, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu sprang to the president’s defence, saying that Steenhuisen could not expect the president to take his policies from the DA’s election manifesto.

Mthembu said Ramaphosa’s SONA speech focused on the energy crisis, youth unemployment, growing the economy and building a capable state.

“We welcome government’s plan to ensure that Eskom works to restore its operational capabilities, while implementing measures that will fundamentally change the trajectory of energy generation in our country such as putting in place measures to enable municipalities in good financial standing to procure their own power from independent power producers,” said Mthembu.

Mthembu added that the government was moving to respond to unemployment, which he said is high because of the “grossly imbalanced structure of the economy”.

This is exacerbated by the skills mismatch that is so prevalent in the country, he added.

SA waits on tenterhooks for SONA

South Africa is waiting with bated breath as Cyril Ramaphosa will present the first State of the National Address (SoNA) of the 6th Parliament on 20 June 2019 at 19:00.

The theme for this year’s event is: “Let’s grow South Africa together as we celebrate 25 years of freedom”.

During the SONA, the President will address the nation as both the Head of State and Head of Government. He will present a plan to address South Africa’s needs for the year ahead.

Since it is a Joint Sitting of both Houses, the Speaker of the NA and the Chairperson of the NCOP host the event. All the three (3) Arms of the State, namely; the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary attend this event. It is one of the rare moments whereby all three Arms of the State meet in one place. As one of the important ceremonies of the state, it is broadcasted live on national television so that the general population is afforded the chance to see it.

The State of the Nation Address is important for all South Africans because it tells us what government’s Programme of Action is for the year ahead. The Programme of Action is government’s plans for the country and people of South Africa.

By being aware of what government is doing, everyone can become involved and also take part in government’s plans to build a better life for all.

The State of the Nation Address was broadcast live on: DStv Channel 408, SABC TV, eNCA, ANN7, SABC radio stations and Parliament’s YouTube Channel.

Fired Moyane demands reinstatement

Source: Fin24

Axed SARS boss Tom Moyane has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa demanding that Ramaphosa withdraw his letter of termination to Moyane before the end of the week.

In a letter issued via his attorney Eric Mabuza on Tuesday, Moyane gave Ramaphosa a deadline of 12 noon on Friday November 9 to withdraw the termination on grounds that the president’s conduct was “irrational, unlawful and invalid”.

“[W]e are instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that you must forthwith withdraw your letter of termination dated 1 November 2018, restore the status quo which obtained before the service thereof (i.e. that our client is suspended with pay pending the outcome of the Disciplinary Inquiry) and duly await the outcome of the pending Constitutional Court application and/or the Disciplinary Inquiry,” the letter reads.

Last week the Presidency confirmed that President Cyril Ramaphosa had fired Tom Moyane as the commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

Ramaphosa had heeded the recommendations of the Nugent Commission of Inquiry, which submitted its interim report at the end of September.

Retired judge Robert Nugent and his assistants unanimously agreed that Moyane does not have the character of a person fit to lead Sars and he should be removed from office as a matter of urgency.

By Bekezela Phakathi with Andries Mahlangu for Business Day

The government will reprioritise about R50bn within its existing budget to reignite economic growth and create jobs, President Cyril Ramaphosa said last Friday.

Presenting the government’s much-anticipated grand plan to kick-start SA’s stalling economy, Ramaphosa also announced the establishment of an infrastructure fund that is a core part of the package. He said R400bn will be leveraged from various development finance institutions, pension funds and ordinary investors, among others over the medium term to drive the infrastructure fund.

“We are establishing a dedicated infrastructure team in the presidency that has project management and engineering skills which will identify shovel-ready public sector projects such as roads and dams,” Ramaphosa said during a briefing at the Union Buildings.

“We have limited fiscal space to increase spending or increase borrowing … we do not have have fiscal space to pour money in the economy … we have to resort to re-prioritising our spending and budget within the current fiscal frame work,” the president said.

The package also includes the new Mining Charter, major changes to visa requirements to boost the tourism sector, the development of industrial parks and township businesses, and reforms in the telecommunications industry, particularly the release of spectrum to create competition and drive down the cost of data.

“The stimulus package consists of a range of measures, financial and non-financial, to ignite economic activity and restore investor confidence, and prevent further job losses, and create new jobs,” Ramaphosa said.

The measures give priority to those sectors that can revive the economy, including agriculture.
Ramaphosa said more details on how the budget will be reprioritised will be provided when finance minister Nhlanhla Nene presents the medium-term budget policy statement. Nene said most of the funds for the stimulus package would be moved from under-performing departments.

Ramaphosa first proposed the stimulus package in July, in a bid to boost SA’s sluggish economy and tackle the unemployment crisis, which at just more than 27% remains a major headache for the government more than two decades since the official fall of apartheid. However, Ramaphosa’s plan to reignite growth was dealt a heavy blow with shock second-quarter GDP data indicating that SA had entered a technical recession.

The rand extended gains and government borrowing costs fell following the speech. The rand was at R14.22 against the dollar, its best level in about four weeks, while the yield on the benchmark R186 bond was at 9.03% from 9.08%.

Cyril reshuffles cabinet

President Cyril Ramaphosa has fired 10 ministers from his cabinet, moved some to other portfolios and appointed David Mabuza as his deputy.

Ramaphosa announced the changes in a late-night address at the Union Buildings on Monday night.

It was bound to be a tough balancing act for President Ramaphosa, as he moved to strengthen his team in government, appease his supporters who backed him in the race for ANC president and give just enough to those seen as Jacob Zuma’s allies, who he may need as his party looks to retain control of government in next year’s national elections.

He also had to ensure the new cabinet is one which speaks to the ANC’s theme of unity, while ensuring those so-called “Gupta ministers” implicated in state capture are ousted.

Ramaphosa indicated he would retain existing ministries and departments until a review of the configuration, size and number of national government departments is completed.

The president has explained why he made the changes.

“These changes are intended to ensure that national government is better equipped to continue implementing the mandate of this administration and specifically the tasks identified in the State of the National Address.

“In making these changes, I’ve been very conscious of the need to balance continuity and stability for the need for renewal, economic recovery and accelerated growth in our country.”

Ramaphosa has moved Nomvula Mokonyane to the Department of Communications, Jeff Radebe to Energy, Naledi Pandor to Higher Education, Malusi Gigaba back to Home Affairs, Lindiwe Sisulu to International Relations.

Gwede Mantashe has been brought in as the minister of Mineral Resources, Bheki as minister of Police, Blade Nzimande is brought back as Transport minister and the minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation is Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The much-criticised Bathabile Dlamini remains in the corridors of power, moving to The Presidency, where she will work under Ramaphosa’s eye. Dlamini is moved to the portfolio of women, in a straight swap with Susan Shabangu, who will now head up the Social Development department.

Derek Hanekom, who was ousted by Jacob Zuma after he emerged as one of the former president’s fiercest critics, goes back to Tourism, while Zweli Mkhize goes to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

DD’S RECORD

David “DD” Mabuza, also known as “The cat” – a reference to his numerous political lives – comes to the deputy presidency with a cupboard full of skeletons.

As a young activist in his home province of Mpumalanga, he was once accused of being an apartheid spy, a claim which has been revived by his mentor-turned-nemesis Mathews Phosa.

Mabuza was fired as Education MEC by Phosa in the 1990s for infamously inflating matric results in Mpumalanga.

As premier in that province he was engulfed in tender scandals and linked to a land claims scam.

His name has also been associated with a string of political assassinations in Mpumalanga, although he has never been criminally charged.

DD Mabuza’s greatest hurdle will be his own crisis of credibility as he assumes the position of deputy president.

So, who got the chop?

Fikile Mbalula

Faith Muthambi

Mosebenzi Zwane

Des van Rooyen

Lynne Brown

Bongani Bongo

Hlengiwe Mkhize

Nkosinathi Nhleko

David Mahlobo

Joe Maswanganyi

By Clement Manyathela for EWN 

Even before being elected as South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa was a people person, joining some for walks, and then jogging along Sea Point promenade. He is clearly liked, but for how long will that honeymoon last?

Coming after the extended period of uncertainty in South Africa resulting from Jacob Zuma’s reluctance to resign, Cyril Ramaphosa’s first State of the Nation address restored dignity and decorum to Parliament, and pressed all the right buttons.

He was gracious to all (even giving thanks to Zuma for facilitating what the ANC has termed “the transition”), before launching into the delivery of a peroration which proclaimed the breaking of a new dawn. South Africa’s “moment of hope”, which was to be founded on the legacy of Nelson Mandela, had returned.

Ramaphosa combined extensive tribute to the heroes of the ANC’s liberation Struggle with the gospel of social inclusion according to the holy writ of the Freedom Charter. This was time to move beyond the recent period of discord, disunity and disillusionment.

The speech was delivered with panache and confidence. It had style, declaring to the nation and the world that he, Cyril Ramaphosa, was in charge.

But along with the style, there was the solid substance. The overall impression was that Ramaphosa intends to impose a new coherence and efficiency on government. Although acknowledging the calamity of the dismally low rate of economic growth, he was upbeat about the future, about the reviving fortunes of the commodities market, and the upturn in the markets.

Deservedly, Ramaphosa was to be allowed to enjoy the applause, as opposition members rose to their feet alongside the ANC MPs to give him a standing ovation which went far beyond ceremonial ritual. After the disaster of Zuma, it would seem to have given a massive fillip to South African pride and confidence.

It also gave the opposition parties a problem. With Zuma gone and a credible ANC president in place, they are facing an uphill electoral battle.

The new president committed to ensuring ethical behaviour and leadership, and to a refusal to tolerate the plunder of resources by public employees or theft and exploitation by private businesses. Critically, this would entail a transformation in the way that state-owned enterprises such as the power utility Eskom would be run.

There would be a new beginning at state-owned enterprises. They would no longer be allowed to borrow their way out of their financial difficulties. Competent people would be appointed to their boards, and there would be an appropriate distancing of their strategic role from operational management. And board members would be barred from any involvement in procurement.

This would all be part and parcel of a much wider reconfiguration of government, presumably a code for the reduction in the number of departments and a reduction in the size of ministerial ranks.

Ramaphosa also committed to hands-on government, promising he would be visiting each department over the forthcoming year.

The forging of a social compact between government, business and labour would define the new era. A part of it would come from a new presidential economic advisory council. There would be summits for jobs and investment; convening of a youth working group to promote youth enterprise and employment and a summit for the social sector to forge a new consensus with NGOs and civil society.

This would add up to the construction of a “capable state” to foster much needed economic recovery. There would be concerted efforts to promote and aid small and medium business and revive manufacturing. Stress was laid on the importance of arriving at consensus around a mining charter, a document designed to guide transformation in this industry.

Due reference was made to preparing South Africa to embrace the fourth and fifth industrial revolutions and the encouragement of scientific innovation and new technology. And there was an explicit undertaking from Ramaphosa that he would take personal responsibility to ensure social grants be paid. And “no individual person in government” would be allowed to obstruct social grants delivery, a brutal, albeit indirect, put-down of the minister concerned.

The one aspect of the speech which would have raised eyebrows among the Davos crowd was Ramaphosa’s re-iteration of the ANC government’s commitment to the expropriation of land without compensation as part of radical economic transformation. This highlighted the ANC’s proposed change to the constitution adopted at its recent national conference.

But that commitment was also fudged by linking any expropriation to ensuring agricultural production and food security. Cynics may argue that this was simply a form of words. In the context of Ramaphosa’s general investment seeking demeanour, agricultural capital and international business are unlikely to be unduly alarmed. But if they are wise, they will take it as a warning to come to the party of “social transformation”.

Ramaphosa has played a long game since he was passed over for president in the mid-’90s in favour of Thabo Mbeki. After playing a key role in crafting the constitution, he left politics, made a lot of money by spearheading the first round of black economic empowerment, and then returned to politics to play what must at times have been a mortifying role as deputy president under Zuma.

He suffered a great deal of criticism for being complicit in the Zuma-era corruption because of his silence – silence he would have reckoned was necessary to secure his rise to the top.

Clearly, Ramaphosa is not above criticism. He is no saint. He lives in the shadow of the massacre of miners at Marikana. Only towards the end of the ANC leadership race did he let fly against corruption and state capture.

Yet it could so easily have been so different. What would the mood have been now if Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma had won the ANC leadership?

Few would have been convinced that she would have been able or willing to leave the legacy of the corruption of the Zuma years behind. In contrast, although there is extensive acknowledgement that Ramaphosa will meet considerable opposition from within the ANC patronage machine if he is to realise his ambitions, he has indeed provided hope.

Yet the irony is that we need to pay due deference to David Mabuza, premier of the province of Mpumalanga.

If it had not been for his last moment tactic of throwing his provincial delegates’ votes behind Ramaphosa at the ANC conference to thwart a Dlamini Zuma victory at the ANC national conference, South Africa would be having to face a very different future.

In true ANC style, the irony is that the moment of hope was facilitated by someone who has been portrayed, even from within the party, as a political hoodlum.

By Roger Southall for The Conversation, published on IOL

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa could be the next casualty of a cabinet reshuffle‚ an insider has told news channel eNCA.

James Motlatsi‚ who formed the powerful National Union of Mineworkers with Ramaphosa and others‚ said he had learnt that President Jacob Zuma would use an intelligence report to justify axing Ramaphosa.

“Let me say to you‚ unconfirmed reports are saying that [this will happen] very soon. This issue‚ Cyril even raised it in a meeting. We have been told by other people that the president himself‚ he is saying Cyril is a spy of Western capitalists‚ so we are waiting for that intelligence report to come out for him‚” Motlatsi said.

Zuma used a similar report to oust Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas from the finance ministry earlier this year‚ ANC leaders have said.

President Jacob Zuma again defied ANC advice and reshuffled his cabinet. On Tuesday he announced another cabinet shake-up‚ the second this year.

He removed SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande as education minister and swapped around five other portfolios.

The reshuffle has been condemned by opposition parties.

The SACP said it was a direct attack on the party‚ which has called for Zuma’s resignation.

Motlatse said the exercise was an act of retribution on Zuma’s part.

“It’s political revenge because the SACP‚ not only Blade‚ had already taken a stance that the president should step down. So‚ instead of engaging the SACP‚ he would like to punish the SACP.”

Source: Times Live

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